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Amid questions, Wesley Chapel clinic moves to Lakeland

WESLEY CHAPEL — An urgent care clinic whose owner used to operate a pain clinic in Temple Terrace has closed and moved to Lakeland.

Wesley Chapel Medical Group was the subject of a St. Petersburg Times story in November after authorities received complaints about streams of cars, often with out-of-state license plates, dropping off groups of patients.

The business, which was about a mile from the State Road 56 exit off Interstate 75, was owned by Lorenzo Jermaine Mathis, 37, a felon. Before opening the Wesley Chapel business, Mathis owned the NBC Pain Management Clinic, which was ordered to shut down in Hillsborough County.

Mathis, who holds no medical degree, maintained that his Wesley Chapel clinic was not a pain management clinic subject to recently approved tighter rules that required such clinics to either be owned by doctors or licensed through the state agency that regulates hospitals.

The law requires only medical clinics that accept third-party payments from government or private insurance to be registered with the state. Mathis' clinic accepted only cash, so his clinic was not subject to state regulation, a loophole that state Sen. Mike Fasano pledged to close this year.

"We are not one of the little pill mills," Mathis told the Times last fall, maintaining his business was no different from the walk-in clinics people visit for a range of ailments, such as strep throat.

But the clinic had visible security a few months ago: A beefy man in a black "SECURITY" shirt patrolled the parking lot, and a surveillance camera sat atop the doorway. Mathis refused then to name the doctors associated with the clinic.

No patients have been seen at the Wesley Chapel clinic for about the past two weeks, neighbors said. A paper sign on the door directs people to call a new phone number for an appointment.

A woman who answered the phone said the clinic was now on U.S. 98 in Lakeland.

Mathis' criminal record dates back to 1992 when he was charged with misdemeanor larceny.

He has been arrested 15 times since then, mostly on driving with a suspended or revoked license, a third-degree felony.

His most recent arrest came last week, when Dade City police picked up Mathis on a Hillsborough County warrant.

He was charged with violating his probation for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Amid questions, Wesley Chapel clinic moves to Lakeland 02/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:07pm]
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